Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: Tears Water the Seeds of Hope by Kim Tews



Tears Water the Seeds of Hope is the inspiring true story of a Midwest husband and wife that become disenchanted with the relentless pursuit of the American Dream and embark on a journey that spans six countries and redefines their values and lives. The story begins in a small town in Wisconsin and weaves its way through South and Central America as the couple gathers an army of supporters and establishes an organization to save the lives of children in the end stages of starvation in eastern Guatemala.


Kim Tews was raised in Madison, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Economics. She and husband, Randy, pursued careers in real estate before beginning mission work together in Ecuador, South America in 2001. In 2005 they established the 501 (c) 3 non-profit Outreach for World Hope to save the lives of starving children in eastern Guatemala. The couple lives in Verona, Wisconsin with their three children, traveling back and forth to Guatemala frequently to facilitate the ongoing programs of Outreach for World Hope.


This book tells a tender story of love and service to the people of Guatemala. The author tells of how she and her husband came to found an organization to fight starvation in eastern Guatemala.  I love these kind of books because they remind me that there is still much goodness in the world.  After watching and reading the news that the media sends my way it is easy to see only the bad things happening in the world and the numerous challenges that must be faced. Stories like this one remind me that often quiet acts of service are being performed on a daily basis all around me, both close to home and far away. There are many like the Tews who chose to dedicate their time and resources to those who so desperately need it. 

The pictures included in the back of the book provide a fitting glimpse into the blessings and challenges that the Tews faced in their humanitarian efforts and the lives they have touched. I was especially touched by the story told in chapter 2 about how $25 dollars provided the money for antibiotics that saved a young boy's sight and how his father road 8 miles on his bicycle after working hard all day just to say thank you. If you are looking for an inspiring story about love and service, I heartily recommend this one.


Chapter 1 - Wrecked for Life

The setting sun painted a backdrop of cotton candy pink clouds over the roadside bar and grill where we would soon hear our favorite acoustic guitar duo sing Jimmy Buffet songs. It was an idyllic Wisconsin summer night late in June of 2005. Under normal circumstances, I would have enjoyed the warm breeze and the glow of the festive colored tiki lights on the outdoor deck with the sense of carefree recreation that midwestern families enjoy when school is out and the days are longer. Randy shook his head, smiling as our two daughters took turns throwing harmless jabs at one another, each laughing hysterically at her own jokes. I felt as if I were watching the scene from a distance, fighting back tears as my mind returned to the children I had seen two days earlier in a squalid hospital in drought and famine-stricken eastern Guatemala—a scene that would change me forever and wreck me once and for all for the relentless pursuit of the American Dream. I was haunted by the forlorn faces of two children whose hopeless situation had laid the framework for the rest of my life.

The severely starved two-year-old boy was scarcely more than skin and bones. Hair was a luxury his body could not afford, as the nutrients available to him were barely enough to keep his vital organs functioning. His face was sunken and pale, the outline of his ribs and spine clearly visible through his thin layer of skin. He had been carried by his barefooted ten-year-old sister from El Volcancito, their remote mountain village several miles away, into the small town of Jocotan, in hopes that his life could be saved. The mother of the children was bedridden with a debilitating illness for which she could not afford treatment. My heart broke as much for the boy, barely hanging on and suffering miserably, as for the young girl, exhausted and saddled with the crushing responsibility of keeping her baby brother alive.

A frail little girl sat weeping on a tattered bench at the entrance to the facility, her body emaciated and her abdomen severely bloated, revealing the presence of parasites within her weak, trembling frame. She had been brought to the hospital for nutritional rehabilitation, and because she was four years old, and her mother had two smaller children to care for at home, she had been left alone. Lidia could not have understood why she had been left behind by her family in this unfamiliar place. She had been sitting on the bench since early morning waiting for them to return. In her hand she clutched what was probably her only toy, a comfort and reminder of home. The lump in my throat returned each time I recalled opening her tiny hand to find that she held a black plastic vulture.

Randy and I were married in May of 1993. During our early years together, we were blessed with two beautiful daughters and were pursuing careers in real estate, climbing the ranks among our colleagues in terms of sales volume. We purchased an enormous house on four acres, and although it was only four years old, we completely remodeled it to suit our tastes. With luxury vehicles and an ever-increasing income, we were living the American Dream. There was much to be thankful for, but something was missing.

Randy and I had both grown up near Madison, Wisconsin in middle class families, Randy’s Methodist and mine Catholic. We had attended Sunday services and believed in an all-powerful God, but faith and religion were not playing a major role in our adult lives. Having agreed as newlyweds to raise our family in faith, we dutifully attended services at a congregation near our home for seven years. But we eventually felt that we needed a change and in spring of 2000, we set out in search of a new church home. With no predetermined denomination in mind, we experienced a variety of church cultures, some too formal, some too weird, others seemingly insincere. We eventually stumbled across an Evangelical Free church on the west side of Madison, near our home in the suburb of Verona. I was surprised to find that instead of an organ and a choir, this church had a band that played upbeat contemporary Christian music on keyboards, guitars and drums. The young pastor spoke with passion, bringing the Bible to life by applying scripture to issues faced by the generations of the twenty-first century. It was at this church that our faith came alive.

Our new understanding of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and the resulting sense of love and gratitude we felt toward God, inevitably began to pose problems for us. We were embarrassed to invite our new Christian friends to our supersized home, and conflicts began to surface in our hearts about how our time and money were being spent. One of the many bedrooms in our home had been turned into my personal closet and was loaded with clothing and shoes, most of which I did not need. I had become so busy in my career as a Realtor that I began to feel like a gerbil on a wheel. My twelve-hour workdays did not leave room for the peace and joy I had heard should come with our newly authenticated Christian faith. One frantically busy day I decided to return phone calls while waiting in line for lunch at the McDonald’s drive through. When a voice came over the speaker saying, “Can I help you?”

I was so preoccupied that I mistook it for a phone call and said, “Hello, this is Kim Tews with the Tews Team Realtors”.

During the awkward silence that followed the kid must have been thinking, “Yeah, who cares? What do you want for lunch?”

That night I arrived home from work late in the evening to find our three-year-old daughter asleep on the couch clinging to a shirt I had worn the day before. When I asked Randy about the shirt he explained, “She said it smells like you, and she misses you.” 


Outreach For World Hope (Author’s webpage)
Book Page on Author’s Site 
Great Escape Book Tour – Tour Page For This Tour

  1. You must be over 13-years-old to enter.
  2. Open to U.S./Canada only.
  3. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

BLOG TOUR BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

Adult Fiction


The leaves are falling and there’s a chill in the air in Willow Ridge, Missouri, the quaint, quiet Amish town where love, loyalty, and faith in the Old Ways are about to be put to the test ...

Autumn Winds

Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they’re bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again—if only there weren’t so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved cafĂ© at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.


I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.
To find out more about Charlotte, please visit her at www.CharlotteHubbard.com.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Favorites: The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum

by Kay Lynn Mangum
Deseret Book, 2005
ISBN: 1-59038-399-0
YA LDS Fiction
Reviewed from personal copy.

Kathy Colton can t stand her brother, Brett. Her family talks as if he were perfect! All Kathy knows for sure is that Brett is dead. He died of leukemia when he was sixteen and she was only two. But when Kathy turns sixteen, she discovers her brother s hidden journal - a journal written especially for her - and learns about the brother she never knew. At the same time, Kathy is mortified by an assignment to tutor the popular high school quarterback Jason West, a football jock who, even worse, is a Mormon. Author Kay Lynn Mangum brilliantly weaves the dual stories of a dying brother and a coming-of-age sister who learn the importance of loving our family and our friends and nurturing our faith.

Today I thought I would share one of my all time favorite books.  While the main character is a teenager, there is much here to be enjoyed by adults as well. The character development is superb, one of the best I've ever read and I've read many. As I've gotten older, character development has become of prime importance in how much I really love a book.  I truly fell in love with the characters in this one, they feel so real to me. Kathy starts out as a bit of a brat resenting her family's adoration of a brother she doesn't remember. That resentment carries over to Jason West the football star she ends up tutoring.  But once she receives her brother's journal and she starts to get to know her dead brother, she starts to change and so does her relationship with Jason.  

I admit I shed tears every time I read this one. The tender relationship that existed between Kathy as a baby and her dying brother is so heartrendingly sweet.  The journal entries of Brett read in such a genuine way as he faces not only the normal problems of a high school athlete but the fact that he is dying. The relationships between Kathy and her family members and friends grow and change as well. Belief in God and life and death play a big role in this story as Brett faces his own mortality and questions about life after death. The author does a beautiful job of integrating faith and religion into a tender story of love and loss and what faith in God really means.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: When Someone You Love has a Chronic Illness by Tamara McClintock Greenberg

by Tamara McClintock Greenberg
Cedar Fort, 2012
ISBN: 9781599559391
Adult Self-Help/Inspirational


Thanks to advances in science and medicine the lifespan of the average American is now longer than ever and many illnesses that once would have proven fatal have become manageable, chronic conditions. Great news, right? Sure, but there is another side to the 21st Century health picture—and it is increasingly becoming part of the lives of Americans. Many more people are living with chronic illness and that means that more than ever family members, friends, and partners are needed to provide formal or informal support.

The average life expectancy in 1920 was around 54 years of age. Today it is between 76-80, though many of us can expect to live much longer—and to be the official caregiver or part of the care giving team for a loved one. For those of us not involved in formal caregiving roles, it is increasingly vital to know what to do and what to say when someone we know is ill. Knowing how to help is crucial to being able to sustain meaningful relationships in this unchartered time of uncertain longevity.

That’s why Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating individuals with chronic illness and their families, wrote WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS: HOPE AND HELP FOR THOSE PROVIDING SUPPORT. In this groundbreaking book McClintock Greenberg shows readers how to provide the best care for their loved ones, without losing themselves.

When family, spouses, and friends are thrust into formal or informal caregiving roles they face a variety of psychological and physical challenges, and they often find themselves with little support and few resources. They also must address difficult issues such as non-compliance, denial, chronic pain and frustration on the part of their struggling loved one. No wonder, then, family members in a caregiver role have higher rates of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t involved in providing care. Vicarious trauma and “compassion fatigue” are common, as are feelings of guilt about having needs of their own and attempts to carve out time for themselves. Self-care can start to seem like a luxury that is out of reach. It’s easy to see how this exacts a steep toll on the caregiver, but new research also tells us that it impacts those being cared for. Studies now show that those who devote sufficient time and energy to their own needs provide better quality care than those who don’t. In other words, we provide better support when we pay attention to our own needs.

So, how can caregivers meet the demands of care giving without sacrificing self-care? Throughout WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS A CHRONIC ILLNESS: HOPE AND HELP FOR THOSE PROVIDING SUPPORT McClintock Greenberg offers compassionate, authoritative, and step-by-step help for striking this critical balance. At the end of each chapter readers find a “coping checklist” that provides helpful, no-nonsense guidance on how to best address their loved ones’ needs and their own.

Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D., M.S., a licensed clinical psychologist, works with patients and family members affected by acute or chronic illness. She is an associate clinical professor and clinical supervisor at the University of California, San Francisco Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Greenberg has written three books and numerous chapters and articles on aging, illness, as well as issues pertaining to women. She writes for Psychology Today online and The Huffington Post. She also speaks to medical, psychological, and public audiences on the impact of illness, caregiving issues, and dealing with the modern medical system as a patient or loved one. She is in private practice in San Francisco.

Greenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Hamline University in Minnesota and was awarded the prestigious Jacob Markovitz Memorial Scholarship to continue in the doctoral program at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. She graduated in 1997 with a doctorate in clinical psychology with a speciality in clinical health psychology.


 What is next for you? Any plans for more books?

I just got back from a long vacation and it was the first time in years that I was not working on a writing related project while I was traveling.  I would like more of those kinds of vacations.

I am working on another book idea, but I am taking my time. I have been really inspired by some academic writing on the culture of medicine and how medical decisions are made.  Unfortunately, this idea is not terribly catchy, and perhaps very nerdy.  I am working to refine it. In the meantime, I blog when an idea strikes me.  

Find & Follow Tamara McClintock Greenberg on:

Psychology Today
The Huffington Post

Buy the BOOK at:

Barnes & Noble


A fabulous book with clear explanations and tips for dealing with the illness of a loved one. I highly recommend this book for those dealing with chronic illness either as a patient but especially for those struggling with the illness of a family member or friend. The author points out some of the difficulties encountered in facing illness and some more productive ways to deal with those challenges. I appreciated the summarized tips at the end of each chapter which distill down what is discussed in each chapter.

I especially appreciated Greenberg's summary of the culture of our current health care system and how best to deal with it. For example, she points out that doctors have so many obligations and patients to attend to they generally do not have time to engage in extended discussions about emotional reactions to health problems.  She recommends that as either a patient or family member you take the initiative in terms of health care and come into an appointment with questions/concerns clearly in mind to discuss.  She suggests treating doctor appointments as business meetings and to prepare accordingly. Great advice to my way of thinking.

The experiences that she shares throughout the book add clarity to the points she makes about the emotions and reactions to illness. The author points out the importance of self-care and facing the emotions associated with chronic illness either as a patient or as a loved one. She explains that the helplessness often felt by those associated with the patient can often lead to further problems if not appropriately directed. I recommend this book for its clear explanations and great advice.

Check out the other blog tour stops here.


  • You must be over 13 to enter.
  • Open only to the U.S./U.K./Canada 
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond before new winner is chosen. 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

BOOK SPOTLIGHT and GIVEAWAY: A Man of Honor by Loree Lough

Adult Christian Fiction 


Dusty and Grace find love together, but will it be enough to pull them through tragedy?
On a steamy spring morning, Dusty Parker—part-time pastor, part-time search and rescue team leader, and full-time administrator at a school for troubled boys—joins the search for a missing teen girl. He partners with volunteer and inner city school teacher Grace Sinclair, and what they find bonds them in ways neither could have expected. As they begin to build a life together, a visitor from the past causes Dusty and Grace to further open their hearts and home. But a dark and dangerous threat looms over their seemingly perfect world, and in one terrifying night……everything changes.


 With nearly four million 4- and 5-star books in circulation, reviewers and readers alike have called best-selling author Loree Lough “a gifted storyteller whose novels touch hearts and change lives.” The 3rd novel in her popular First Responders series, A Man of Honor (Loree’s 88th published book), reaches bookstore shelves this September. Loree and her husband live in the Baltimore suburbs and love spending time at their tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her “i.d the critter tracks” skills. She loves to hear from readers (who can email her via http://www.loreelough.com) and answers every letter, personally.

Visit Loree Lough’s blog.
Friend Loree Lough on Twitter.
Like Loree Lough’s Facebook page.

Pick up your paperback copy of Loree Lough’s A Man of Honor at Amazon.
Download your ebook copy of Loree Lough’s A Man of Honor at Amazon.
Purchase your copy of Loree Lough’s A Man of Honor at Abingdon Press.
Pick up your copy of Loree Lough’s A Man of Honor at Barnes & Noble.
Pick up your copy of Loree Lough’s A Man of Honor at ChristianBook.com.
Visit Loree Lough’s official virtual book tour page.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Running by Cami Checketts

by Cami Checketts
Birch River Publishing, 2012
ISBN13: 9781475166606
Romantic Suspense

Cassidy Christensen is running. Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents. Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable.  Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness. With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she'll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.

Kindle (only $.99)

Cami Checketts is an idealist who dreams of helping children around the world but can't keep up with the four in her own home. Cami lives in a beautiful valley in Northern Utah where she enjoys running, biking, and swimming during the two months of the year it isn't snowing. A portion of the proceeds from Cami's books will be donated to The Child & Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to www.cachecfsc.org.
When Cassidy finds herself the winner of an entry into the St. George marathon she is anything but ecstatic. After all she only entered the 5K because her sister-in-law challenged her too.  But when she realizes that Damon, a handsome fellow runner, is wanting to train with her, she reconsiders. Although she finds herself unable to forget the tattooed doctor who assisted her after the 5K. But when it appears that secrets from her murdered parents past have come back to haunt her, she is left not knowing who to trust. Exactly what had her parents been doing in Mexico when they were killed? Can she trust the handsome Damon? What about Jesse who won't even tell her his last name let alone take her on a date? And what about the irritating red-head who keeps turning up? And when a family member is deliberately injured can she find the courage to face the unthinkable?

I really enjoyed reading this book. Cassidy was a delight to read about with her sardonic wit and honest nature. I especially enjoyed the funny names she came up with to describe people, like Hot Redhead or Dr. Tattoo. I enjoyed Cassidy's interactions with her sister-in-law, Raquel, who seems to be the only one who thinks Cassidy can run the marathon.  With plenty of humorous moments as well as suspense, I found the book moved along at a quick pace with lots of twists and turns and little surprises to keep me satisfied. The only problem I had with the book is that I didn't want it to end when it did. I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters afterward. Hmmm, maybe there will be a sequel? I can only hope so.


Learning to Run

I inched down another stair, hoping the soft creaks wouldn’t give me away to whoever was arguing in my living room. My dad was visiting me this week, gathering medical supplies for another one of his projects. I’d been gracious and allowed him to host his meetings in my living room. The support from the medical community in our little corner of Northern Utah was actually impressive, but did one of the doctors have to show up in the middle of the night?
I was in that luscious almost-asleep phase when I heard the banging on my front door and crawled out of bed. Irritation turned to fear as I listened to the conversation. The man threatening Dad wasn’t one of his supporters.
“You interfered with the wrong shipment this time.”
Shipment?” Dad asked. “These are human beings, not some profit margin.”
I reached the bottom step and peeked around the wall. My dad stood near the fireplace with a mixture of shock and revulsion on his sunburned face.
Just inside the front door, a man peeked out from the shadow of a hooded sweatshirt. He yanked out a wicked-looking blade. I covered my mouth to stifle the scream. My stomach knotted. My legs felt like ice. I didn’t know if I could move, let alone help.
The knife sailed through the air. My father darted to the side. The blade jabbed into his upper arm. Dad yelped. The pain in his face lodged in my own gut. He grabbed at his arm and yanked the knife out, spraying the wall with blood. My dad’s blood. Help. I had to do something. 
The hooded figure closed the distance and wrenched the weapon from dad’s fingers, lifting it above his head.
“No!” I leapt from my hiding spot, grabbed a heavy picture frame off the end table, and smacked the man with it.  
“Cassidy!” Dad inhaled quickly, hazel eyes widening.
The attacker knocked the picture frame out of my hands and pointed the bloody knife my direction. Dark eyes swept over the skin not covered by my t-shirt and cut-off sweats. I squirmed, his look scaring me as much as his knife. I backed up a step, eyes focused on the blade.
My dad planted himself between me and the man.
The man’s white teeth flashed against leathery skin. “She’s beautiful, Doc.” His tongue darted across his lower lip. “The dark hair and pretty brown eyes. Looks just like her mom.”
Dad held up his uninjured arm and shoved me behind him, his breath coming in ragged gulps. “Leave her out of this, Panetti.”
 Panetti cocked his head to the side. “I’m supposed to kill you, but I could bring her in alive for some extra compensation. How old are you, sweetheart?”
I glared at him over my dad’s shoulder. “Twenty-one and going nowhere with you. Get out of my house before I call the police.” It was a lame threat since I was visibly shaking and had no clue where my phone was.
The man threw back his head and laughed. “I like her, a bit of attitude. Ramirez and I will both enjoy her.”
I swallowed the sickening taste of his threat. Sweat trickled down my spine. I clung to my injured dad, who was currently no match for this psycho. How could I protect either of us?
“You’ll never touch her.” Dad pushed me toward the kitchen doorway. “I can’t believe you would betray the children for Ramirez.”
“Not for Ramirez. I betrayed the children for lots and lots of money.” Panetti revealed his perfect teeth again.
Dad looked back at me. “Run,” he whispered.
I swallowed, trying to catch my breath. No matter how scared I was I couldn’t leave him.
“Run, Cassie!” He shoved me and faced the madman.
Panetti let out a warrior cry and lunged with the knife. Dad ducked. The blade sliced air instead of flesh, throwing Panetti off balance. Dad plowed into the man’s abdomen, knocking him into the front door. I screamed, running towards them to try to help.
“Get out of here,” Dad yelled.
Stumbling away from the fight, I slammed into the wall. A yell of pain from my dad forced me to keep moving. I ran into the kitchen and nearly collapsed with relief when I saw my phone. Placing all my hopes and prayers on three numbers, I stilled my trembling hands enough to dial: 9-1-1.
The call connected. “A guy is trying to kill my dad!” Grunts and the sound of bodies slamming into furniture reassured me Dad was still alive. I told the dispatcher my address, but then she started asking more questions.
“I’ve got to help my dad.”
“Officers are en route.”
“Good!” I clung to the phone but stopped listening as I sprinted back into the living room. Dad was on top of Panetti. The knife was on the floor, Panetti reaching for it. I covered the last couple of feet, kicked the knife farther away, and stomped on his hand with my bare foot. Pain radiated up through my leg but I heard a crunch that hopefully meant I did some damage. How awful that I really wanted to hurt him.
I held up my phone. “The police will be here any second.”  
Dad strained to keep Panetti pinned. “Go back to the kitchen.”
“I am not going to the kitchen while you fight for your life.”
“Cassidy,” Dad groaned. “For once in your life listen to me.”
Panetti shoved Dad off of him. Dad banged his injured arm against the sofa, blood mingling with the leather finish as he yelped in pain. Panetti leaped to his feet, pushed me out of the way, and ran for the front door. Dad struggled to stand up. I regained my footing and hurried after Panetti, but Dad grabbed my arm before I got outside, allowing Panetti to disappear into the darkness.
“We should go after him,” I said.
“Not tonight.” Dad shut the front door and slid to the floor, clutching his bleeding arm. “I’ll find him.” The sheer determination in his eyes made me glad I wasn’t Panetti.
“That guy wasn’t one of your Mexican orphanage supporters.”
Dad laughed, patting the floor next to him.
I clenched my hands together to stop the shaking. A few more deep breaths and I might feel like I wasn’t going to pass out. “You need something for the blood.”
He reached up a hand to me. “I’ll be okay. It’s you I’m worried about.” I sank next to him and threw my arms around his neck. My entire body was trembling now. Dad patted my back and whispered that I was safe. It was exactly what I needed to hear, but still had a hard time believing. Several minutes later I could hear sirens approaching the house. I wiped at my nose and bit my lip to hold back more tears. “Someday you’re going to tell me what that was all about.”
Dad shook his head. “Hopefully you’ll never know.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: River's End by Melody Carlson

Book provided as part of blog tour.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own. 


In the final story of the Inn at Shining Waters, Anna’s granddaughter Sarah is struggling to find herself. And in an attempt to escape her parents’ dysfunctional lives, Sarah travels away from all that is familiar. But her grandmother’s love and the pull of the river draw Sarah back. Still it’s not an easy journey to find the healing and forgiveness that’s needed to reunite and strengthen this broken family together again.


Melody Carlson is one of the most prolific novelists of our time. With around 200 books published and sales topping 5 million, Melody writes primarily for women and teens. She’s won numerous honors and awards, including The Rita, The Gold Medallion and Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Some of her books are being considered for TV movies and film. Melody has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. When not writing, Melody likes to travel, bike, camp, garden, and walk her dog Audrey in the great outdoors.

Visit her website at www.melodycarson.com

Pick up your copy of River’s End at Amazon.
Pick up your copy directly from the publisher.


A tender story of family, love, and forgiveness told in a straight-forward manner. Anna is delighted when her granddaughter, Sarah, returns home after running away two years earlier. It quickly becomes clear however that while Sarah has returned to the Inn, she is not the same person she was when she left and she harbors great bitterness toward her mother for past neglect. While Anna knows that Sarah's mother has changed she has her work cut out for her in convincing Sarah of that. At the same time, things at the inn are becoming overwhelming and Anna wonders if maybe some changes need to be made.

I enjoyed reading about Anna and her family and the ups and downs of their lives. The thing I love about this kind of book is that the characters are regular people like myself, with their own challenges and problems. I like reading about how they face these challenges and find the faith and love to continue on even in the face of tragedy and the unexpected events in life that somehow manage to surprise us all. Books like this remind me that problems can be solved and challenges overcome. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a book about love and loss, faith and forgiveness, and above all hope.

Monday, September 10, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Band of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke

by Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4143-5308-1
Christian Fiction
Book received as part of blog tour.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Maureen O'Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.Despite her family's disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father's debt but can't find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he's hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (Taken from Goodreads)

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Promise Me This, William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland. Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com.

Q & A with the AUTHOR

1. What motivated you to write Band of Sisters?

I’ve always been fascinated by the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. But I was horrified to learn that there are more than twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all, to ask, “What can I do to help in a need so desperate?”

2. What research did you do?

My research began with human trafficking today and the fight to abolish modern-day slavery through books, the internet, and through organizations and individuals that are helping in various ways—raising awareness, rescuing, restoring and healing victims, tracking down and prosecuting predators, education of men and boys re. the human rights and intrinsic worth of women, safe houses, etc., and those who fundraise to assist organizations or individuals who are already doing these things.

For historical background I watched documentaries and read (books, old newspapers, archives) about the growth of old New York, the social conditions and desperation of the poor and of immigrants in particular, the disadvantages to those who did not speak English, the unique problems of women and children—the opportunities for and difficulties of making a living wage outside of prostitution, the threats made to women and their families to coerce them into sexual service, of their economic desperation without a male provider, of their few legal rights, and of the unfair treatment women received in court. Those studies led me to the development of the sweatshops, the growth, expansion and revisions of the settlement house movement, the work of Jacob Riis in making the abject poverty of thousands known to the public.

Learning of those conditions led to a special interest in Irish immigrants—their cultural and social strengths and weaknesses, their views of family, their aptitude for and reception in different types of employment in America.

My husband and I made two trips to NYC. From there we conducted research at Ellis Island, took several tours in the Tenement Museum, and bought more research books and maps, including more on the Triangle Waist Factory fire.

Once I knew my storyline, I mapped out locations of the story and trekked through Manhattan, exploring old sites, especially between Mid-town Manhattan, through Washington Square and the surrounding NYU area (including the site of the Triangle fire), the Bowery and the Lower East Side. As I walked, photographed the city, explored, and talked with residents, the voices of my characters erupted. I gladly followed their lead.

3. Your characters are strongly influenced by the question asked in Charles Sheldon’s classic, “In His Steps”—“what would Jesus do?” Why did you choose that book to help tell your story?

After all my research I knew I had the historical elements needed. What I didn’t know was the inner conflict of each character, or the answer to the all-important question: “what can I do to help in a need so desperate?”

I found my answer by confronting the question Sheldon posed in his very popular book of the time, “what would Jesus do?”

If we all truly do what Jesus would do, slavery will end. Jesus never exploited men or women—He uplifted them and showed them a path of hope, a new way of thinking and living. He never used children, or child labor for ease or gain—He blessed little ones, demonstrating their great worth. He never bought or sold babies to fulfill the bride “needs” of a one-child culture. He never bought or sold human organs, or fetuses, or body parts. He never lied to immigrants, never enslaved them, never threatened their families or loved ones or lives if they did not comply with His demands, never coerced or forced, never shamed or punished a single person into submission to His will. But in every way He set a moral compass, employed Divine compassion to the broken hearted and broken bodied, and held to account any and all who victimized others.

4. Human trafficking and the abolition of slavery is such a huge problem, let alone rescuing and restoring its victims. What can I do to help?

*First, learn all you can through reading and talking with individuals and organizations who have already joined the fight:
  1. Google “human trafficking” to learn what is happening in the world.
  2. Contact your local library, social services, churches or police force and ask what is being done in your community to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking. They can help you find books, organizations, and on-line information to educate yourself about:
    • The crime (what is human trafficking and where in the world it occurs—you will be astonished)
    • The people at risk
    • The methods traffickers use to capture and enslave
    • The tracking down, arrest and prosecution of predators
    • The rescue, restoration, and healing of victims
    • The fight to abolish slavery through legal means
    • The education of men and boys re. the dignity and worth of women and girls
    • Organizations and/or Individuals that are already working to do the above-**See my website at www.cathygohlke.com for a growing list of these sites. If you find more, please let me know so I can add them.
*Once you understand what organizations and opportunities are already in place, determine what you are able and equipped to do. That might include:
  1. Work directly with one of these organizations, either in this country or in a foreign country
  2. Validate, affirm, encourage and engage girls or women who are at risk or in the process of healing
  3. Welcome strangers into your church as part of the church family
  4. Take a rescued victim into your home or provide housing
  5. Mentor a victim, or a girl or woman at risk
  6. Help a woman find safe and gainful employment and/or child care
  7. Help a woman applying for a job find appropriate clothing
  8. Provide childcare and/or transportation when needed
  9. Tutor a student, young or not so young and encourage hopeful options
  10. Invite women or girls for a meal in your home or take them out for a meal or event, using the opportunity to reaffirm their worth
  11. Provide assistance for medical care—practical or financial
  12. Speak up when others make slurring or disrespectful comments re. women, immigrants, homeless, etc.—attitudes must change to make change last
  13. Do not patronize stores, hotels, sporting events or other venues where you believe women or children are trafficked
  14. Provide legal counsel, assistance or finances for same for victims
  15. Write or speak out against trafficking

What a book! Heartfelt and complex, the book follows the experiences of two young Irish girls who flee their native home in search of freedom. I immediately felt a connection with Maureen, who despite the awful treatment she received at the hands of her village's landlord, still has spirit enough to try to save herself as well as her 13-year-old sister. Unfortunately like many immigrants before her, she found the reality of life in New York very different from what she'd hoped. Uncertain who to trust and with her faith in God depleted she discovers that she is not as alone as she thinks she is. Can she find the hope and courage to rise above the past and face the dangers of her present?

Not only is this book beautifully written, but it is so full of heart and hope despite the heart-wrenching circumstances of the main characters, Maureen and Katie Rose. I'm not sure what else to say, except that I loved the book and I highly recommend it.  The author does a fabulous job of re-creating the world of tenement housing of the early 1900s. This story is so believable and real, that I couldn't help but wish I could help the characters. The whole issue of modern slavery sickens me, and yet slavery has been around since Biblical times and remains with us today. There is much power in asking ourselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" Hopefully, reading this book will lead all of us to ask this question.

I hope to do some of the things that the author mentions above to help those who need a helping hand. While I don't have the means to help everyone, none of us do. I can help those around me, at school, at work, at church.  I feel stronger than ever the need to contribute to my church's ongoing efforts to help those around the world find the means to help themselves. I hope you feel the same.

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